A SIGHT TO BEHOLD: A group of Balinese carry elaborate and colourful offerings on their way to a special temple ceremony.
A SIGHT TO BEHOLD: A group of Balinese carry elaborate and colourful offerings on their way to a special temple ceremony.

Always giving thanks

THEY'RE on every street, in every temple, in every house, on the beach, on cars and motorbikes and even near the tarmac at Bali's international airport.

Offerings or "canang sari”, the colourful woven baskets made from a palm or banana leaf and filled with bright flowers, rice, incense, coins, and a small amount of meat or fish are literally scattered everywhere on the enchanting Island of the Gods.

Forming the foundation of daily and spiritual life for the Balinese, the majority of whom are Hindu, I have been enchanted by these offerings or blessings ever since I first stepped foot on this famed Indonesian island in the late 1970s.

To sit on a concrete floor covered with straw mats in a Balinese home and witness the beautiful artistry of making offerings for daily life and special ceremonies is a pleasure and a privilege.

To witness parades of breathtakingly beautiful women delicately balancing towering offerings on their heads as they walk to their temple for prayer or to take part in a ceremony is a sight to behold.

And to watch a Balinese's gentle and graceful hand movements as deep in concentration and prayer they place an offering on the street, on the beach or on their own family temple or statue, is to get a glimpse into this magic culture and serene way of life.

Offerings are a ritual of giving back, of faith and devotion. It's a desire to be thankful for what you have, to receive and keep good fortune, to ward off disaster

and allow abundance to flow in your life. It's a way to appease the bad spirits, to be thankful for all you have and to show true faith and devotion.

The sheer volume of offerings needed to be made every day, has prompted the emergence of many businesses who now sell the colourful blessing baskets at local pasars (markets). Extremely labour intensive, offerings come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. The more important the celebration or ceremony, the more complex and intricate the offerings are.

With literally thousands and thousands of temples in Bali, offerings, and the making of them pervades the daily lives of the spiritually rich Balinese.

"Offerings are a very important part of our lives,” my Balinese friend Wayan said. "They are an integral part of our day and especially important during special festivals and events.

"Even the young, who are now so obsessed with social media and technology, still acknowledge the importance and reverence of the offerings and what they symbolise.”

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